Comment 36165

By highwater (registered) | Posted December 09, 2009 at 17:29:57

Tammany wrote:

I think this fact largely explains why downtown has struggled so hard to develop. Middle class people regard it as alien territory. It doesn't belong to them because they are manifestly outnumbered by the "other", compounded and emphasized by the fact that most of the visible facilities (the retail, the social services, etc.) are all geared towards the other. And while the "others" might not in reality be dangerous, middle class people are nevertheless intimidated by their presence, and will tend to see them in a threatening and derisory light - hence Lorne's remarks about "young punks with tatooed necks", panhandlers, drug dealers, etc.

This is largely true, but I think you're overstating the intimidation factor. When I go downtown I tend to stick to the AGH, JS, the market, the library, and James N. I occasionally come across panhandlers and street youth in my travels, but they don't phase me or keep my from enjoying my time downtown. However, I almost never venture along King E or Gore Park, not because I'm 'intimidated', but because it is quite clear to me that the businesses along there are aiming for a different target market and are not interested in my business. It's the same reason I don't go to Hess Village or patronize the fast food joints geared for students in Westdale.

It's not rocket science. People go where they feel welcome, and a disproportionate number of businesses downtown do not welcome middle class customers. I realize this is a chicken and egg thing and doesn't really help solve the problem, but going on about how 'intimidating' downtown denizens are obscures the culpability of many downtown businesses.

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